Canto XXX

English Edition, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1   Perchance six thousand miles remote from us
2   Is glowing the sixth hour, and now this world
3   Inclines its shadow almost to a level,
 
4   When the mid-heaven begins to make itself
5   So deep to us, that here and there a star
6   Ceases to shine so far down as this depth,
 
7   And as advances bright exceedingly
8   The handmaid of the sun, the heaven is closed
9   Light after light to the most beautiful;
 
10   Not otherwise the Triumph, which for ever
11   Plays round about the point that vanquished me,
12   Seeming enclosed by what itself encloses,
 
13   Little by little from my vision faded;
14   Whereat to turn mine eyes on Beatrice
15   My seeing nothing and my love constrained me.
 
16   If what has hitherto been said of her
17   Were all concluded in a single praise,
18   Scant would it be to serve the present turn.
 
19   Not only does the beauty I beheld
20   Transcend ourselves, but truly I believe
21   Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
 
22   Vanquished do I confess me by this passage
23   More than by problem of his theme was ever
24   O’ercome the comic or the tragic poet;
 
25   For as the sun the sight that trembles most,
26   Even so the memory of that sweet smile
27   My mind depriveth of its very self
 
28   From the first day that I beheld her face
29   In this life, to the moment of this look,
30   The sequence of my song has ne’er been severed;
 
31   But now perforce this sequence must desist
32   From following her beauty with my verse,
33   As every artist at his uttermost.
 
34   Such as I leave her to a greater fame
35   Than any of my trumpet, which is bringing
36   Its arduous matter to a final close,
 
37   With voice and gesture of a perfect leader
38   She recommenced: We from the greatest body
39   Have issued to the heaven that is pure light;
 
40   Light intellectual replete with love,
41   Love of true good replete with ecstasy,
42   Ecstasy that transcendeth every sweetness.
 
43   Here shalt thou see the one host and the other
44   Of Paradise, and one in the same aspects
45   Which at the final judgment thou shalt see.
 
46   Even as a sudden lightning that disperses
47   The visual spirits, so that it deprives
48   The eye of impress from the strongest objects
 
49   Thus round about me flashed a living light,
50   And left me swathed around with such a veil
51   Of its effulgence, that I nothing saw.
 
52   Ever the Love which quieteth this heaven
53   Welcomes into itself with such salute,
54   To make the candle ready for its flame.
 
55   No sooner had within me these brief words
56   An entrance found, than I perceived myself
57   To be uplifted over my own power,
 
58   And I with vision new rekindled me,
59   Such that no light whatever is so pure
60   But that mine eyes were fortified against it.
 
61   And light I saw in fashion of a river
62   Fulvid with its effulgence, ‘twixt two banks
63   Depicted with an admirable Spring.
 
64   Out of this river issued living sparks,
65   And on all sides sank down into the flowers,
66   Like unto rubies that are set in gold;
 
67   And then, as if inebriate with the odours,
68   They plunged again into the wondrous torrent,
69   And as one entered issued forth another.
 
70   The high desire, that now inflames and moves thee
71   To have intelligence of what thou seest,
72   Pleaseth me all the more, the more it swells.
 
73   But of this water it behoves thee drink
74   Before so great a thirst in thee be slaked.
75   Thus said to me the sunshine of mine eyes;
 
76   And added: The river and the topazes
77   Going in and out, and the laughing of the he.
78   Are of their truth foreshadowing prefaces;
 
79   Not that these things are difficult in themselves,
80   But the deficiency is on thy side,
81   For yet thou hast not vision so exalted.
 
82   There is no babe that leaps so suddenly
83   With face towards the milk, if he awake
84   Much later than his usual custom is,
 
85   As I did, that I might make better mirrors
86   Still of mine eyes, down stooping to the wave
87   Which flows that we therein be better made.
 
88   And the Aenas the penthouse of mine eyelids
89   Drank of it, it forthwith appeared to me
90   Out of its length to be transformed to round.
 
91   Then as a folk who have been under masks
92   Seem other than before, if they divest
93   T he semblance not their own they disappeared in,
 
94   Thus into greater pomp were changed for me
95   The flowerets and the sparks, so that I saw
96   Both of the Courts of Heaven made manifest.
 
97   O splendour of God ! by means of which I saw
98   The lofty triumph of the realm veracious,
99   Give me the power to say how it I saw!
 
100   There is a light above, which visible
101   Makes the Creator unto every creature,
102   ho only in beholding Him has peace,
 
103   And it expands itself in circular form
104   To such extent, that its circumference
105   Would be too large a girdle for the sun.
 
106   The semblance of it is all made of rays
107   Reflected from the top of Primal Motion,
108   Which takes therefrom vitality and power
 
109   And as a hill in water at its base
110   Mirrors itself, as if to see its beauty
111   When affluent most in verdure and in flowers,
 
112   So, ranged aloft all round about the light,
113   Mirrored I saw in more ranks than a thousand
114   All who above there have from us returned
 
115   And if the lowest row collect within it
116   So great a light, how vast the amplitude
117   Is of this Rose in its extremest leaves!
 
118   My vision in the vastness and the height
119   Lost not itself, but comprehended all
120   The quantity and quality of that gladness.
 
121   There near and far nor ad.d nor take away;
122   For there where God immediately doth govern,
123   The natural law in naught is relevant.
 
124   Into the yellow of the Rose Eternal
125   That spreads, and multiplies, and breathes an odour
126   Of praise unto the ever-vernal Sun
 
127   As one who silent is and fain would speak,
128   Me Beatrice drew on, and said: Behold
129   Of the white stoles how vast the convent is!
 
130   Behold how vast the circuit of our city!
131   Behold our seats so filled to overflowing,
132   That here henceforward are few people wanting!
 
133   On that great throne whereon thine eyes are fixed
134   For the crown’s sake already placed upon it,
135   Before thou suppest at this wedding feast
 
136   Shall sit the soul (that is to be Augustus
137   On earth) of noble Henry, who shall come
138   To redress Italy ere she be ready.
 
139   Blind covetousness, that casts its spell upon you,
140   Has made you like unto the little child,
141   Who dies of hunger and drives off the nurse.
 
142   And in the sacred forum then shall be
143   A Prefect such, that openly or covert
144   On the same road he will not walk with him.
 
145   But long of God he will not be endured
146   In holy office; he shall be thrust down
147   Where Simon Magus is for his deserts,
 
148   And make him of Alagna lower go!